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New Breville BES920
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > New Breville...  
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,089
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 9:56am
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

voodoo11 Said:

Stock Tamper

Posted February 25, 2014 link

Doesn't fit the VST basket very well.  You either need to be very careful about sealing the edges, or else should get a VST sized tamper. You either want a flat, or near-flat bottom (C-flat, American curve or shallower); Euro curves don't work well with flat-bottomed baskets.  

VST 18g basket (fits in perfectly)

A VST 18 is a nice basket in a lot of ways; but it's extremely intolerant of -- shall we say -- creative dosing.  VST says 17g - 19g.  In my machine, it's 17.5 - 19.5g for my 18g Stradas (VST by another name).  If you assume that any dose lighter than 17g or heavier than 19.5g won't work, that's good ground.

VST baskets don't tolerate poor distribution or poor tamping very well.  If you make a mistake in distribution or "consolidation" (the new tamping), you'll pay with spritzers, channeling, or side-channeling.  

You can go back to the Breville basket, or use anything else which will fit in your pf.  

The nice thing about VST baskets is not so much "performance," but standardization.  Every VST basket of a given model is the same.  Once you've got it figured out your 18g for dose and distribution, you're done. Baskets made by other manufacturers aren't like that.  

Baratza Preciso Grinder

I hate to rag on your equipment at this stage of the journey, but the Preciso is not good enough to pair with a BDB.  Once you get the basics down to the point where you can pull an adequate shot, the Preciso will forever be the limiting factor in your chain.  No matter which beans you use, or how good your technique -- you can only beat the Preciso's limitations by luck.  

Not bothering with...

Whatever it is you're not bothering with, you NEED to bother with a SCALE.  You need one with accurate, repeatable resolution to the nearest 0.25g (which gives you a 1/2g window of accuracy), with enough capacity to tare the pf; the easiest and least expensive way to do that is with an 2kg/0.1g scale

There are a lot of perfectly good choices, so don't take my recommendations as any sort of last word.  But I've used both of these, and found them good for size, durability, performance and value.  Get the AC/Battery model if you've got a spare AC outlet handy by your machine;or, its battery-only brother if you don't.

I am probably overthinking (and am somewhat overwhelmed) with all of the variables I can change...  mind meld frustrated.... I've gone to all the default settings - 200F Grouphead, 6 sec preinfusion, 60% pre-infusion rate.  My preciso is set to 3C.

Yes to overwhelming.

It's got to be frustrating that a machine so lauded for its user-friendliness is so uncooperative.  And it's got to be similarly hard to believe that the full panoply and range of adjustments will someday (couple of months) actually make your espresso life easier.  But, there you go.

Relax, breathe, you'll get through this.  Everyone suffers the torments of the damned when dialing-in new equipment.  The move from what you had to what you have is substantial and it's normal for it to take a week or so before you begin to get comfortable.  

The first step on the road to good barista technique is learning to eliminate variables.  Start with the factory setting on everything, and... assuming that the temp on the display is true to brew temp... set the brew temp to 201F.  

There's no such thing as a good starting setting for a Preciso (or any other grinder damn near).  That's (a) situational; and (b) what we're going to work on next.  

the gauge was reading 7 bar and the shots overall were fast (20 sec).

Grind too coarse, and/or you're getting major channeling.  

While we're on the subject, you might as well check that the pump is up to snuff, and the OPV set correctly.  What's the pressure with the blank disk in place?

Can anyone here offer tips on dialing in my grind?

First... you're going to need a lot of beans, which are between 4 and 14 days post roast, and are otherwise drinkable.  

Use -- for now -- 18g doses.  You may end up having to increase or decrease the dose by as much as a gram to compensate for the Preciso's limited capabilities.  

Start by selecting a very fine setting on the grinder; fine enough to choke the flow.  Then coarsen the grind by successive iterations (you don't have to move one step at a time, you can make jumps if you like) until you get at least a trickle.  Them move setting by setting until you get an appropriate flow rate.  

When the pours start to look normal, you'll need to time and weigh.  

Start by stopping... That is, for dialing in purposes, you'll need to cut the shot at the "blond point" for a normale. The stream should be just at the end of "tiger striping," pale brown/tan, but not translucent.  

Not counting the 6sec preinfusion, you want a pour time from 20sec to 30sec.  At the risk of repetition, the clock stops at the blond point.  

The weight of a normale shot should be very close to twice the weight of the dose; i.e.,
an approximately 50% brew extraction ratio.  

It's the nature of the beast that espresso shots are not entirely reproducible.  So allow for some variation as you continue to tweak grind to get close to the 50% ideal.  Unless you're very lucky, you'll need to play with the dose a little to get in the window.  

After you've established dose and grind to this extent, you can work on using temp to balance sweets and sours.

When you get temp right, you can return to dose, grind, brew extraction ratio and flow rate and adjust them until you're getting the best your grinder will allow your beans to offer.  

I am also employing the "just get the tamp level and don't worry about 30lbs of tamping pressure" methodology.

Tamping pressure isn't a big deal.  Tamping pressure consistency is.  Tamping is the last part of the "distribution" puzzle.  Since this isn't your first barbecue we won't go through the basics of that unless you ask.  

Last, the advice to weigh the shot as it pours, and cut at a particular weight is well intentioned but wrong.  

You want to cut the shot at the visible "blond point" indicating your desired degree of extraction.  Then weight it.  This procedure allows you to determine the "brew extraction ratio" (very important for refining your shots and techniques down the line), as well as your "flow rate" for the desired degree of extraction.  When it comes to tasting what's in the cup, it's more important that a shot be neither under nor over extracted than that it hit a particular time or weight goal.  So, rather than time, weight or volume, let the blond point be the starting point cutting off point.  

Don't worry, it gets pretty easy in not too long.

Rich
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PrescottCR
Senior Member
PrescottCR
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 101
Location: Prescott
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Breville
Grinder: Baratza
Roaster: Diedrich
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 11:10am
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

What the other Rich said.

It's not so much using the exact right numbers, but rather finding what those are for you and your set up, including the beans you have.

I roast coffee for a living and his point of using beans 4-14 days post roast is exactly right too. I always write the roast date on my bags, but not everyone does.

The only thing I disagree with is the Preciso being a limiting factor. Sure, it doesn't have infinite adjustments, but the number of steps it has should be adequate. There's another grinder called Virtuoso that only has the 40 steps in grind level, that one would be very difficult to live with. The Preciso has something like 11 times as many which is pretty good. No, not as good as a true step less but darn near.

One thing I forgot to mention- when making grinder adjustments always run the grinder and purge the espresso that comes out. Just about every grinder manual I have read says to adjust while they are on.

I would also add that just as we both mentioned consistent tamping (and distribution) is important, I believe you should apply some pressure.

Since you asked about tamps- I use a cheater from that has a tangible 'break' when you hit the set pressure so I'm always at the same pressure. Fine for home use, but the equivalent of training wheels when it comes to equipment and I'm sure there's some wear & tear on the device but who cares as long as it's consistent!

When I train Baristas I generally bring a bathroom scale and let them push a tamp down on it to see what 30# feels like. A cheap, mechanical scale works fine and you could tamp on it at home if you really wanted to be consistent. It just raises the whole process up a couple inches which is uncomfortable.

I'll also second the opinion that (in my words) the VST baskets are fussier than the Breville ones. Whichever baskets you use make sure you don't bump the portafilter against anything, you can induce channeling if you do.

As a side note- you wouldn't believe how horrible and as Rich mentioned, disparate other manufacturer baskets can be. On a multi group machine this is a big deal! I just bought a Aurelia II and the baskets that came with it look like they were made in a grade school metal shop. Breville baskets, and dispersion screens are pretty nice.

I'll sign this one- other Rich
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voodoo11
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2013
Posts: 28
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville BES920XL
Grinder: Baratza Preciso, Hario...
Drip: V60
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 11:19am
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

(Tremendous feedback.  Thank you!

I'll deal with my preciso for now until it "accidentally" breaks in front the wifie ;)

I have this scale (Click Here (www.amazon.com)).  Do you think this will do the trick?

Also looking at a good tamper right now as I will be sticking with VST (I'm determined) and will report back accordingly.
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PrescottCR
Senior Member
PrescottCR
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 101
Location: Prescott
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Breville
Grinder: Baratza
Roaster: Diedrich
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 11:40am
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

That's a very reasonable price for a scale. I zero the scale with the portafilter then load it with a dose and weigh again. So doing that on a slightly larger scale might be easier, but with that cover that acts like a bowl you might be able to do it with that one too.  

Whichever tamp you get, make sure it fits your baskets. VST has one that I'm sure fits and most likely rocks. The base I bought for my tamp was 58mm, which fits the Breville baskets fine. Sadly Tamps are something that's better to try before you buy, I say sadly because its hard to find a place that sells them!

Since you're just getting one for yourself vs pulling 100s of shots a day that's less of an issue but still...

Other Rich.
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voodoo11
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2013
Posts: 28
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville BES920XL
Grinder: Baratza Preciso, Hario...
Drip: V60
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 12:50pm
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

PrescottCR Said:

That's a very reasonable price for a scale. I zero the scale with the portafilter then load it with a dose and weigh again. So doing that on a slightly larger scale might be easier, but with that cover that acts like a bowl you might be able to do it with that one too.  
Other Rich.

Posted February 26, 2014 link

I also have this scale at home Click Here (www.amazon.com) but that won't fit under the group head ;)
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PrescottCR
Senior Member
PrescottCR
Joined: 19 Dec 2012
Posts: 101
Location: Prescott
Expertise: Pro Roaster

Espresso: Breville
Grinder: Baratza
Roaster: Diedrich
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 1:24pm
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

The .1gm resolution part is important, as Rich pointed out you can weigh the shot after you stop it. I like to weigh as I go but really the important thing is to stop @ blond-ing so you don't HAVE to wedge it under the group head like I do.

You might check some of the reviews for the one you're looking at and see if anyone uses it for dosing espresso... is there a way to search the reviews for 'espresso?' there are a TON of reviews.
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boar_d_laze
Senior Member


Joined: 21 Nov 2006
Posts: 1,089
Location: Monrovia, CA
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: La Cimbali M21 DT/1 Junior...
Grinder: Ceado E92; "Bunnzilla"
Vac Pot: Royal Coffee Maker
Drip: Chemex + Kone; Espro Press
Roaster: USRC Sample Roaster
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 2:05pm
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

(

I'll deal with my preciso for now until it "accidentally" breaks in front the wifie ;)

Accidents happen ;0  Don't wait too long.  It's not only a limiting but a complicating factor as well.  

I have this scale (Click Here (www.amazon.com)).  Do you think this will do the trick?

Yes.  And +1 to everything Rich said as well.

Also looking at a good tamper right now as I will be sticking with VST (I'm determined) and will report back accordingly.

Coffee Complements (which is the same as Precision Tampers on ebay) probably has the best combination of handle size and shape, quality, and price in the VST-specific size.  

If you're buying a tamper from them, buy a flat or C-flat base -- don't get curved.  Whether you choose a serrated or non-serrated surface doesn't matter, but serrated looks MUCH cooler.

I have two CC tampers, Billiards Coffee Tamper and Brass Handle Espresso Coffee Tamper, and like each of them quite a bit.  The Billiards tamper is very comfortable for people with either small or large hands.  The Brass Handle is quite heavy, and looks a lot less like a door pull in person than in the photo.

FWIW, the goal of a 30lb press is 30lbs total pressure, and not 30lbs per sq.in. (which would be about 100lbs total).

30lbs used to be the gold standard of tamping, but theories change and techniques evolve.  The consensus is that the particular force matters less than consistent force from tamp to tamp, and -- just between you and me -- consistency is also overrated.  

While there are still practitioners of the hand-stamp tamp, most of us are tamping lighter.  Some of us using no more pressure than required for "consolidation."  One of my two current favorite tampers, a "Butterfly," favors consolidation over pressure; while the other, the "Brass Handle" from CC, indulges a press. Hell, it practically presses 30lbs by itself, and by the time you've leveled and polished... voila!  Allowing each tool to dictate technique, I get similar flow rates without adjusting grind.  Go figure.  

Not that you need the warning, but don't buy the Butterfly until you've mastered something more typical.  It's not for everyone, and it would be a shame if you had to fight it without knowing that it was an obstacle.  Closed course, professional driver, yadda yadda.  

At some point, preferably sooner rather than later, you'll want a naked pf to help you clean up your distribution technique.  

Rich
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voodoo11
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2013
Posts: 28
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville BES920XL
Grinder: Baratza Preciso, Hario...
Drip: V60
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 5:52pm
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

Wow.  Many thanks for all the tips here.

Ok, so because I'm a little OCD, I'm now tracking all my variables on a shared google spreadsheet.

My latest stats are:

- 6 day old beans
- shot temp 201
- VST basket
- 18g in/42 g out
- 40ml at blonding/cutoff
- 29 seconds total
- preciso setting 2E(!)

This resulted in an ok flavor, not bright until the finish, light crema.  Not a huge amount of body.

I think i'm going to strip back to the basic Breville basket until I get a tamper that is VST specific.  This is also due to the fact that the grind is getting so fine, it's beginning to creep into turkish territory.

Off to put the kids to bed but I'll pull a couple more shots tonight.

Lastly, someone asked earlier about heat up time.  From a cold start, the boiler heated up to 200F in 6:42:03
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SpaceTime
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Joined: 9 Dec 2013
Posts: 271
Location: Virgo Cluster
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: 83 & 89 Cremina, 85 Coffex
Grinder: HG One, Pharos, LIDO
Drip: Freiling 33 & 44oz FP,...
Posted Wed Feb 26, 2014, 5:56pm
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

Congrats on your new machine Voodoo.  Looks like you are enjoying it too, that is what counts!  Good coffee is always a bonus too.... ;-)
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voodoo11
Senior Member


Joined: 15 Oct 2013
Posts: 28
Location: NJ
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Breville BES920XL
Grinder: Baratza Preciso, Hario...
Drip: V60
Posted Thu Feb 27, 2014, 8:01am
Subject: Re: New Breville BES920
 

SpaceTime Said:

Congrats on your new machine Voodoo.  Looks like you are enjoying it too, that is what counts!  Good coffee is always a bonus too.... ;-)

Posted February 26, 2014 link

Thanks!  

boar_d_laze Said:

While there are still practitioners of the hand-stamp tamp, most of us are tamping lighter.  Some of us using no more pressure than required for "consolidation."  One of my two current favorite tampers, a "Butterfly," favors consolidation over pressure; while the other, the "Brass Handle" from CC, indulges a press. Hell, it practically presses 30lbs by itself, and by the time you've leveled and polished... voila!  Allowing each tool to dictate technique, I get similar flow rates without adjusting grind.  Go figure.  

Posted February 26, 2014 link

Ok, getting there.  This morning had a decent shot at 32g out/18g in.  When I had my silvia, I was tamping hard.  I'm curious about this "consolidation" theory as it makes sense to value consistency/level over fussing over getting to exactly 30lbs of pressure.

What is the theory behind consolidation?  Is there any other online research where I can read about this/get some basic guidelines to this "new" method?

Oh, and blew through my bag of beans last night ;)  Off to pick up another 2 or 3 today.
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